Molinari leads but Ryder Cup colleagues crash out
Italian golfer Francesco Molinari watches his shot during the first round of the PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey, England, on May 23, 2013. Molinari leads the way after two rounds of the European PGA Championship here at Wentworth but several of his European Ryder Cup team mates missed the cut.
Molinari shot a second round 68, four-under par, to head the field after making four birdies in his last eight holes to be sitting pretty in the clubhouse by lunchtime.
A cluster of players finished a shot back from Molinari, whose brother Edoardo was two-under, including South Africa's George Coetzee, Marc Warren of Scotland, Mark Foster from England and Spain's Alejandro Canizares.
A grandstand finish from English youngster Eddie Pepperell, who birdied the last four holes, got himself to four-under alongside another Italian, Matteo Manassero.
The deteriorating weather meant few players were likely to challenge Molinari's mark at the top of the leaderboard in the afternoon and Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and defending champion Luke Donald all failed to make the weekend.
The cut fell at two-under par and Justin Rose birdied the par-5 18th to just get in on the mark but 75s for McIlroy and McDowell scuppered their chances.
The pair finished on 149, five over par with another Ryder Cup player, Paul Lawrie two shots better off on 147 but still heading home.
Lee Westwood, however, was another early finisher who made the cut easily finishing on three-under par, the same score as Ernie Els and the winner here in 2010, Simon Khan.
McIlroy missed the cut here last year and never looked happy in miserable rainy conditions.
McIlroy said: "I just was grinding and I didn't play particularly well.
"I couldn't give myself any chances to get any shots back and try to get in at the weekend. It was not the weather you expect in London in May but it was the same for everyone and some guys deal with it better than others."
Molinari was one of the few to get a score going in the downpour and is in good shape to bid for a fourth win on the European Tour.
"Six-under is a good score given the conditions and it is a great position going into the weekend. But it is a very tough golf course so anyone even six or seven shots behind is still in it. It is the right time of year to be in good form and hopefully it keeps going that way," said Molinari.
Donald's exit after winning here the last two years was one of the biggest shocks of the day but he paid the price for his first day 78 although he claimed he is close to his best form.
Donald said: "I made five birdies today so it is not like I am a million miles away. It is doing the things that Luke Donald does well - be tidy around the green and make those putts when I need to.
"I am not too worried. It is never nice to miss a cut, especially here at Wentworth, a place I have played well. I will be back - failure is a much bigger motivator for me than success."
Poulter shot 76 for the second day on a course where he has never had much success.
"It is horses for courses and I guess this isn't my course," he said.